Home Institution

Illinois Wesleyan University

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


The research outlined in this study examines different views on women’s empowerment in Cape Town, South Africa. Although a new Constitution and a new democracy promises equal opportunities for men and women, vast inequalities can still be seen throughout most of the country, with the city of Cape Town being no exception. There are numerous non-government organizations in Cape Town, most working towards what they call “the empowerment of South African women.” But what does empowerment mean for the workers and volunteers within these NGOs? The three participants in this study all belong to different organizations in the Cape Town area, therefore offering a variety of perspectives of women’s empowerment. Interviews were used to gather the information needed for this study, and sampled were women from different walks of life as well as belonging to different organizations. From these interviews, I was able to understand what exactly women’s empowerment means in South Africa and why a need for it exists as well. My findings and conclusions of my study suggest that while the Constitution of the new South Africa demands equality for all genders, South Africa actually falls short of this goal. The NGOs sampled in this study find that there exists now more than ever a need for empowerment due to rising numbers of sexual violence and vast economic inequalities. Also, it was found that the government does need seem to be providing the adequate resources for the funding of women’s empowerment. The legislation exists, but the implementation is not there. The findings of this study also show that women need various types of empowerment, as well as men need to be educated in the field of women’s empowerment in order to effect real change. This research hopes to provide insight into the complexities of women’s empowerment and how it functions in Cape Town today.


African Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Politics and Social Change | Women's Studies


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